Although McCall, Idaho, impresses as a four-season destination, it offers unique excitement during the winter months just 90 miles north of Boise. You’ll find plenty to do in this mountain town whether you’re into cross-country skiing in the backcountry, mountain biking on groomed trails, or exploring local breweries. Check out this travel guide to discover things to do in McCall winter.
You can count on at least 113 inches of snowfall in McCall per year, compared to only 28 inches throughout the country. About 20,000 acres of snow is waiting for you to make your mark with the following area ski resorts that attract visitors with at least 2,600 skiable acres.
Does Brundage Mountain Resort have the Best Snow in Idaho™? The only way to find out is to try your skis on 1,920 acres with a vertical drop approaching 1,921 feet. You and your kids will appreciate the family-friendly Beartopia Fun Zone as thrill-seekers rush down the pitches of Hidden Valley.
Go on an outdoor adventure across 18,000 acres of backcountry on a snowcat or improve your moves in terrain parks like Easy Street for newbies, Bear Park to build skills, and Rodeo to hit the flow. Adaptive ski equipment is available for those requiring special alpine ski lessons.
Little Ski Hill, which is part of the Payette Lakes Ski Club, built its rep on leading the little ones down the slopes. They can start with an afterschool program that brings them in on a bus and continue on with a Saturday group program.
Snowboarders can catch plenty of air in the Outback Terrain Park, which has 20 rails, tabletop jumps, volcanoes, and spines. And Little Ski Hill is the only place in McCall that encourages night skiing on trails that are bright with floodlights.
If you’re looking for a thrill ride, have a go at Upper Bliss and Lower Bliss in Tamarack Resort. You’ll run down a combined 2,200 feet of vertical at almost two miles. That’s assuming that you don’t stop to gaze at the views of Lake Cascade and the valley.
If you prefer to disappear among groves of fir and Aspen, explore nearby trails through Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, or fat biking. When you’re hungry for a fresh catch, take the five-hour guided fishing trip that includes all your needed equipment, lunch, a heated ice shack, and a snowmobile rental. You may end up with the biggest perch you’ve ever seen.
While McCall is known for its outdoor wonders, the town also entertains with many indoor diversions.
You’ll find made-in-Idaho goods at Rustic Outlet McCall, which highlights 16 local artists and dealers and their art, furniture, jewelry, ceramics, antiques, candles, clothing, and home décor. For a unique selection of imports, gifts, and home furnishings, Wild Onion encourages you to “Expect the Unexpected.” When you need to upgrade your gear before you ski, pay a visit to the “Mountain Recreation Experts” at Home Town Sports.
Enjoy a night of plays, musicals, and other performing arts at the Alpine Playhouse, which was started in 1966 by local lovers of culture. Twice a year, your youngest performers can take part in Children’s Theater that is sponsored by the McCall Arts & Humanities Council.
Behind the Art Deco facade of the Roxy Theater, which opened in 1939, you can watch the latest blockbuster movies or applaud live performances ranging from comedy to music.
You’ll find the best of local sculpture, paintings, and other visual art displayed at Gallery Fifty-Five, which is a non-profit that is owned by its 20 member artists.
Unwind from a day of winter sports with a trip to the town’s relaxing spas.
When you’re done with your skis or need an alternative to them, try these other activities on the snow.
Both kids and adults can enjoy a different type of sledding at the Activity Barn, which is built especially for snow tubing on big inflatable cushions. Pick one of five lanes and glide to the top of the hill on a “magic carpet” conveyor lift. Then speed down an 800-foot run as you drop by 85 feet.
As the largest building in downtown McCall, the Manchester Ice and Event Center enthralls with ice shows, curling, hockey, and an ice rink. Enjoy daily public skating or learn the skill by enrolling in an official United States Figure Skating Association course. For something unusual, drive an ice bumper car to bounce off other vehicles.
Less than a half-hour north of McCall, the Hapy & Florence Sleigh Rides put you in a horse-drawn sleigh to view Rocky Mountain Elk and other wildlife by the Gold Fork River near Donnelly. Be sure to dress in warm clothes and bring a blanket and camera for your 45-minute jaunt.
Explore over 500 miles of groomed trails in a rented snowmobile or snow bike, which replaces the front wheel of a motorcycle with a ski and the back wheel with a track system.
Granite Lake is particularly scenic with such view points as Black Tip Point and Fisher Creek Saddle. If you’re visiting the historic Burgdorf Hot Springs, the only way to reach it in the winter is to ake the Warren Wagon Trail from the Frances Wallace parking lot.
For inexpensive fun outdoors, head for the many parks that dot the area.
The biggest celebration of the season is the McCall Winter Carnival, which has symbolized Idaho winters since 1924. Everybody gets in on the week-long fun with over 100 unique winter activities that include:
Whether you’re in McCall for the day or the week, you’ll eventually want to satisfy your hunger and thirst. You can stick with the offerings at the ski resorts or enjoy more variety at the many eateries in McCall. Your choices vary by cuisine but some of the favorites include:
The McCall Ale Trail serves beer lovers who want an organized excursion through the local scene. Start with a McCall Ale Trail passport from the Chamber of Commerce. Then visit 10 stops that include breweries and restaurants to collect a stamp. When you’ve gathered at least 10 stamps, drop it off at the Chamber of Commerce to collect your commemorative McCall Ale Trail Coozie.
All the ski resorts in McCall have comfortable accommodations. Their convenience gives you a place to rest your head at night after a day of fun on the slopes. But you can also take advantage of many types of lodging away from those resorts.
Hotels and lodges pamper you with services that take care of your every need so that all you have to do is relax.
Did you roll into town with your own RV? Then park it at Mundo Hot Springs, which soothes aches and pains with geothermal water that is piped directly to the pool and spa. If you want a space that’s more fully-featured, the McCall RV Resort gives you paved drives and concrete patios, phone and cable hookups, and service for 20, 30, or 50 amps.
For a unique mountain vacation experience, cozy up to the Brundage Bungalows, which houses you in fully-furnished private cabins that include free WiFi, upgraded baths, wood or electric fireplaces, and access to a forest.
When you want to access some therapeutic hot springs without an RV, head for Burgdorf Hot Springs, located 32 miles north of McCall at the Payette National Forest. You can choose from three historic log-sided pools with average temperatures that range from 96 to 113°F. You can then retire to your rustic cabins, which have neither electricity nor running water but have renewable lighting.